The Frozen Four begins today at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, "capping a yearslong process to secure the city's first NCAA championship," according to Jenn Menendez of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. With the Penguins "offering full support," Robert Morris Univ. announced an intention to bid in '08, and formally submitted a bid in '10. The NCAA "makes a point to set the championship in new markets, including cities with NHL rinks that can put on a strong event." Penguins and RMU personnel "traveled to multiple Frozen Fours to see how the event works and to get ideas to be the host." It will be the "first Frozen Four in Pennsylvania, and is followed by Philadelphia next year." Penguins President & CEO David Morehouse said, "There's a lot of internal excitement. It's a pretty big event. We've never hosted an NCAA final in any sport and think it's a good thing for us" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/10). The AP's Will Graves wrote the Frozen Four will be "highly visible evidence of hockey’s strengthening foothold in western Pennsylvania, one that could one day soon rival the hotbeds in places like Minnesota, Detroit and New England." Event organizers "hope in some way the true star of college hockey’s crown jewel may be the city" (AP, 4/9). The POST-GAZETTE's Menendez noted tickets for the event "have been sold out for months attracting many fans that make it a yearly rite of spring." There will be "fan festivals, collectibles bought and traded, brass trombones wailing and drums banging as school pep bands play from their corner of the rink." The Hobey Baker award for the nation's best collegiate hockey player will be awarded tomorrow, and ESPN will air Saturday's title game (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/10).
NEW KIDS ON THE ICE: In Boston, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell noted Quinnipiac, UMass-Lowell, Yale and St. Cloud State are the "fresh faces in the 2013 Frozen Four." Three of the four teams "have never made it this far, and Yale’s only other appearance was in 1952." It is the "first time in NCAA Tournament history that the traditional super powers" -- Boston College, Boston Univ., Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Denver, Michigan, Maine and North Dakota, "which have 46 championships between them -- have been shut out" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/7). Also in Boston, Bob Ryan wrote the composition of the '13 Frozen Four "perfectly reflects the trend of 21st century college hockey, in which the traditional Midwestern state school powers ... have been threatened by the emergence of a seemingly endless stream of battling underdog schools with rather limited athletic budgets" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/7). In N.Y., Peter May notes Quinnipiac is sending "at least six buses loaded" with students to Pittsburgh. The school's allotment of 600 tickets "sold out in a day." Some students "camped out to ensure they were in line when the windows opened." Meanwhile, Yale has "scheduled a viewing party in the basketball gym with free T-shirts, soda and pizza" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/11).